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February 1, 2009
South Zone 548 ( Badrinath 200, Dravid 138, Gony 3-90) and 319 (Uthappa 160, Ashwin 66*) beat North Zone 300 (Sohal 94, Dewan 81, Suresh 3-69) and 156 (Dhawan 61, Balaji 3-20, Suresh 3-48) by 411 runs
It took 42.3 overs on the final day for South Zone to complete a crushing win against North Zone and set up a final clash with West Zone. South declared on their overnight score of 319 for 3, to set North an outlandish target of 568 in 90 overs to make the final. Medium-pacer L Balaji and legspinner M Suresh took three wickets each to hasten defending champion North's defeat.
Shikhar Dhawan fought a lone battle for North, his 61 off 100 balls being the only half-century of the innings. After losing Rahul Dewan in the morning's first over, North resisted with a 70-run stand between Dhawan and captain Aakash Chopra. However once Chopra fell, caught behind by Dinesh Karthik off Suresh, it was the domino effect as the other batsmen surrendered meekly.
Suresh and Karthik combined again to run out first-innings hero Sunny Sohal, and when R Ashwin trapped wicketkeeper Uday Kaul leg before in the 19th over, North had slipped to 72 for 4. A 50-run stand between Dhawan and Amit Mishra kept South at bay but Dhawan's dismissal triggered a mini-collapse, Manpreet Gony and Vikramjeet Malik exiting in quick succession.
North's problems were further compounded as the injured pair of Virat Kohli and Rajat Bhatia were unable to bat. Mishra went on to make 46 before he was the last man out, which ensured that South would be enjoying home advantage in the final at Chennai beginning Thursday.
While Rahul Dravid has captained India, Robin Uthappa led Karnataka this season in the Ranji Trophy. Arjun Yadav captained Hyderabad in VVS Laxman's absence, while Dinesh Karthik was at the helm in Tamil Nadu during the tournament as well. S Badrinath believed his job as South Zone captain was made easier with the presence of such leading lights. "It always helps to have players who are also skippers of other domestic teams," he told the Indian Express. "We get more ideas and our job becomes much easier."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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